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Time to pass the baton

As I write this, I can’t believe a whole year as ADCS President has passed so quickly, yet I can’t quite remember life before it. I have felt humbled and privileged to be President, but leadership is not just what you do when you’re in the job, it’s the succession planning and being able to pass on the baton well without losing speed that counts too. Working with fantastic Vice President Steve Crocker and the great team, that is all of you who make up the Association, has made this year great fun and benefited our collective impact in some key areas of work, so a huge thanks to all of you for everything! So much has happened this past year, and ADCS has worked intensively to influence key government work which will be surfacing soon. A Schools White Paper, a SEND Green Paper and a major review of Children’s Social Care have been critical areas of focus and their publications will bring a new phase as ADCS continues to influence them going forward. The right purpose and shape of our education system for the future, the role of local authorities within it, and having the best partnerships in place are crucial to get right. The future direction for children’s social care and wider partnership working will be vital too.

ADCS has been busy making our collective views heard though two policy position papers; What is Care For? 2021 and a Youth Justice System that works for all Children. We also published our invaluable EHE survey and provided over 25 responses to consultations or submissions to calls for evidence. Our voice has been heard in newspapers, trade press, on national radio and television

With continued health pressures and the physical and mental health of both children and adults being such a critical issue, this year ADCS has pressed for the importance of children’s health to be better recognised in the new health and social care legislation, especially mental health, and the needs of those with SEND. The recent House of Lords amendments to the Bill are incredibly welcome, now to influence the opportunity.

The three-year spending review last autumn produced more funding than we originally expected, and we have been working to encourage joined up planning across government departments to use their allocations collaboratively. However, despite this funding, the financial pressures for us all remain real and stark. Covid recovery has a long way to go, and I know ADCS will continue to champion the needs of children in respect of safeguarding, health, education, poverty, and family life. The positive impact of the way local authorities and partners worked together during the toughest of times has helped us evidence the importance of the role of local authorities for the future. The value of our workforce cannot be understated and the current pressures we are experiencing will be vital to address.

Every ADCS president has been privileged to be supported by the wonderful Chief Officer Sarah Caton whose years of experience, encyclopedic memory and warm friendship brought something special to being president, as well as to the work of ADCS. Losing Sarah has been incredibly painful but as with all great leaders she built a wonderful team who have picked up her baton and are coodinating the work of ADCS awesomely. I am incredibly thankful to them for their friendship, leadership, great work and support despite their own grief in a very difficult time.

So, what about our children? Their lives, their hopes and their struggles captivate us all and we are determined to do our best for them through the work we do. Our children in care and our care leavers give us cause for fierce family pride but at times endless cause for worry. They bring joy to our hearts and give us sleepless nights. It is our impact on the lives of children, by which we ultimately want to be measured, and our determination to see a country that works for all children that drives us forward.

There is so much to do but I know that our new President will lead us brilliantly and take our collective endeavour forward to the next stage. Refreshed priorities are emerging, and the work carries on. Steve, a huge thanks for all of your support this year. The baton is now yours!

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